The Annual MNS Raptor Watch is a Nature Education Extravaganza for the Family
If you've never attended the MNS Raptor Watch, it's time to go. Each year migratory birds, from as far away as northern Asia, fly over the west coast of Malaysia to return home after feeding in the tropics.
Raptor Watch is a combination of scientific study and nature awareness. Volunteers and researchers observe and count these high flying birds to keep track of species and population numbers.
The Malaysian Nature Society celebrates these annual bird counts with a nature festival for kids and adults to come out and take part in the observations.
Kids can watch the skies with powerful monoscopes and try to identify raptors swirling high above or take part in games and activities surrounding the viewing area.
Located at Tanjung Tuan in Port Dickson, spend time outdoors and choose to go on a forest walk to the lighthouse overlooking the Straits of Malacca or wander along the adjacent tidal pools to discover marine life.
MNS Raptor Watch: What's All This Bird Stuff?
Raptor Watch monitors migratory birds to bring awareness about species and habitat conservation.
These birds of prey, such as the Black Baza or Eurasian kestrel, travel great distances to find feeding grounds when winter shuts down the food supply.
Counting birds each year gives an indication of the health of each species to determine if habitat loss or some other factor is affecting the overall global population.
Raptors start arriving in Malaysia in February and stay through April until the Spring weather blossoms with enough food back home.
About two dozen foreign bird species migrate to Malaysia and a few dozen more local species reside in the area.
According to MNS, the best time to watch raptors is between 11 am and 3 pm, when hot air thermals help them glide to use less energy.
MNS Raptor Watch: The Importance of Tanjung Tuan
As a forest reserve, Tanjung Tuan is just a small patch of coastal forest. As a conservation area, Tanjung Tuan is a vital stopover for migratory raptors.
Tanjung Tuan juts out into the Straits of Malacca and its proximity to Sumatra allows these graceful birds to bridge the gap between the two land masses.
What can a few trees do to protect a species? Flying thousands of kilometers requires a few pit stops. Wetlands and forest reserves act as rest stops to find a few snacks to restore depleted energy.
As large birds, raptors roost in mature trees for overnight breaks and use these green shelters to catch rats and other tasty things. Without these protected habitats, many raptors may get too exhausted to survive the long journey.
Keeping Tanjung Tuan intact is the primary goal for conservation. Plans to develop the reserve as part of valuable sea front real estate present a constant threat.
The mature forest also protects the waters surrounding Tanjung Tuan that harbour coral and sea grass beds and safeguard secluded beaches where green turtles still lay eggs.
MNS Raptor Watch: Things To Do
Missed Out in 2012? See the activities below to plan for 2013.
Courtesy of MNS
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